Ever since the Indian independence it has been normally understood that the Indian States and Estates which numbered six hundred on 15 August 1947 were the symbols of incompetence, oppression and vices. The States had a very peculiar status in the political theory which grew up in India in the 19th century. They did not form part of the British Indian Empire nor were they sovereign powers. The states were neither feudatories of the Government of India, nor protectorates, and nor merely allies either.
The present publication contains the biographical sketches of the Princes and leading officials and non-officials of the erstwhile States and Estates of Indian sub-continent. The editor and the compiler intends to show that they symbolised progressiveness and also the conservators of Indian social and cultural traditions. Some of the states showed a zeal for welfare and progress that left the work, that was being attempted in British India far behind and people enjoyed benefits and privileges unknown in the British administered areas. Socially the states has certainly been more backward than British India, but the trends of the progress, through weaker, had been in the same direction. At least in the larger States there grew a professional middle class, and private commercial enterprise created something of a modern economic system. One could hear a stirring of constitutionality and democracy from the princely governed territories. Some of the States set examples in enlightened advance for the Provinces to follow.
The detailed introduction sets forth the historical context and an analytical framework. The book is going to make a lively study for the layman as well as serious students of history.